When students at Glenfir School, an independent school in Summerland, leave class today to begin their spring break, it will be for the last time. On Thursday, Craig Dunbar, head of the school, announced that the school was closing its doors permanently.
Declining enrolment and the economic climate took its toll on the school, which offers programming for kindergarten to Grade 12 and has been in operation since 1993. At its peak in the early 2000s, the school had around 175 students. That number had dwindled to 76 this year. Dunbar said they simply do not have the money to continue operating the facility, which also employs 18 staff members.
“Our final teaching day will be Friday, March 18, after which time all of the students will go on spring break. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reopen the school again,” said Dunbar.
While the school had suspected closure was coming over the past couple of months, they had hoped to stretch until the end of the regular school year.
“We tried at all costs to avert this time of year as opposed to June. That was our biggest obstacle to overcome and unfortunately it became larger than we anticipated,” he said. “It makes for a difficult jolt to our families, our community and ultimately to the kids.”
Wendy Hyer, superintendent for the Okanagan Skaha School District, said she found out about the impending closure Wednesday morning and they have since been working with Dunbar and parents of Glenfir students to make the transition as smooth as possible. The staff, families and students were also notified earlier this week of the impending closure.
While the public school district will have to do some juggling to make room for the students, Hyer said, places will be found for all those wishing to switch to one of the public schools.
“It’s an emotional time for the folks who have discovered they no longer have a school to go to,” said Hyer. “I know we’ve already had a few kids that have gone to Pen High to register. We’ll accommodate them as best we can.
“It’s unfortunate for Glenfir, but we certainly welcome the opportunity to entice them back into the public education system.”
Dunbar said there is little chance the school will be able to reopen its doors after spring break, though he hasn’t given up hope entirely.
“We will continue to hope for some small miracle that allows us to open our doors on April 4,” said Dunbar, adding that if anyone has such a miracle to offer, he encourages them to contact him at 250-494-0004 or email@example.com.